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CVLLP 25: Cheddleton Access for All

Project Objective

To provide access for all from The Flint Mill Museum to the Railway Museum via the Caldon Canal and offering opportunities for interpreting the heritage significance en-route. Also to provide healthy walking and cycling opportunities where conservation and heritage values have been enhanced.

There are significant periods of industrial heritage still existing in Cheddleton:

  • Flint Mill; first reference to milling at Cheddleton dates back to 1253
  • Caldon Canal opened in 1779
  • Churnet Valley Railway opened in 1846. Each has its unique history and evolution and is worthy of interpretation

All these are connected via the Caldon Canal towpath and suitable surfacing will be provided for access by wheelchairs, pushchairs, bicycles and pedestrians.

While undertaking access work we will install additional mooring points, as visitors travelling on boats do not have sufficient moorings currently to encourage them to stop and use the local facilities.

Fit to existing strategies and objectives

Although we have established earlier that the canal towpaths are not Right of Ways, they still form essential elements of the accepted access facility of the area and are relevant to The Staffordshire County Council Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) (SCC 2007 ) established a framework for managing the Rights of Way network over a 10 year period (2007-17) and set out priorities for improving it to meet the needs of today's users. The Churnet Valley is recognised within the ROWIP as an area where demand for access is, and will remain, high.

Research also suggests that the use of local Rights of Way helps to boost tourism and contributes to rural economies. The link between the use of local rights of way and rural economies was clearly demonstrated during the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic when it was considered necessary to close the public path network. Many businesses reported losses of income as a result of the closure.

From the Sustainable Community Strategy for Staffordshire this part of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership contributes strongly to:

Improved sense of health and well being by:

  • reducing levels of obesity across the population
  • promoting healthier living
  • promoting healthier choices

Providing a protected, enhanced and respected environment by:

  • creating green spaces within communities
  • improving access to everyday facilities

Comprehensive description of the project

Caldon Canal – A Brief History

Opened in 1779 as the Caldon Branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal, the canal was built to carry limestone from the Cauldon Lowe quarries in the Southern Peak District. Tramroads were built to bring the limestone to the canal from where it was transported along the canal system. A second branch canal, the Leek Branch, was constructed to connect the Caldon Canal with the town of Leek and the newly constructed reservoir at Rudyard.

Consisting of 17 locks along 17.5 miles (28km) the Caldon Canal was used for transporting limestone. It managed to fend off the attention of the railways for a while but eventually at the beginning of the 20th Century a new railway line was built and canal traffic slumped dramatically. By the1960s the canal had deteriorated to such an extent it had become more or less un-navigable.

Due to the persistence of the Caldon Canal Society (now the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust) and in partnership with British Waterways and Staffordshire County Council (three partners in the CVLLP) the campaign to re-open the canal finally came to fruition in 1974.

Programme of Activity

The aim is to connect Cheddleton Flint Mill Museum with the Churnet Valley Railway Museum via the Caldon Canal towpath creating access for all and interpreting the heritage significance en-route; creating a local route for cycling and walking where heritage and conservation are enhanced.

We will also provide a visitor mooring and enhanced access for people using a local boat “Beatrice” designed for people of all ages with disabilities.

Working with the CVLLP 17 there will be interpretation at the 3 sites to explain their history and evolution; proactive vegetation management will also be undertaken in order to improve the biodiversity value of the canal (CVLLP 5).


We will use a mix of British Waterways approved contractors resurface the towpaths and provide moorings to industry standards. Construction will run between April 2012 and 2013.

Who will benefit?

  • local residents from the village of Cheddleton will benefit from the opportunity to use a more formally surfaced towpath;
  • charity boat Beatrice – a Cheddleton based charity for disability, young people, old /elderly people with disabilities;
  • people with disabilities and reduced mobility will have a new safe, access for all embark/disembark area built and access along the towpath to a quality unavailable elsewhere within the CVLLP area;
  • this part of the canal will offer a key point for interpretation (CVLLP 17) for local people and visitors and also for educational purposes;
  • local businesses will benefit as the improved access and interpretation in this area will encourage more visitors to “stay awhile” and enjoy the facilities in Cheddleton.

Outputs and outcomes

Measured outputs

  • 1.2Km of footpath improved to provide access for all.
  • 1 access platform for disabled people to access the local trip boat to be installed.


  • 3 significant heritage sites to be interpreted under CVLLP 17 linked by a access for all high quality route.
  • 20,000 improved local community visits each year.
  • More leisure users staying longer in the area and using the facilities available in Cheddleton.


The canal, its towpath and various parcels of land where work will be carried out under this project are all in the ownership of British Waterways. They will enter into a binding legal agreement with the Lead Partner and the Heritage Lottery Fund regarding long-term maintenance of works carried out under CVLLP.

What happens when the project is finished?

  • The towpath – British Waterways towpath will be maintained to its normal waterway standards
  • Mooring – British Waterways will maintain as a customer facility
  • Beatrice mooring – third party agreement will be sought for The Beatrice Charity to maintain this mooring

Risks and constraints

Operational Risks

Risk: Key staff retention; technical skills and relationships with land managers need to be built up over time; staff recruitment and retention is therefore important.

Contingency planning: The canal access plan has been completed and the majority of work required will be carried out will be undertaken by a mixture British Waterways approved contractors.

Project Delivery Risks

Risk: Poor weather may reduce the ability to deliver access projects within described timescales, this is liable to have a minimal potential effect for what is predominantly a construction project.

Constraints, licences, permits etc

British Waterways own all of the land where this project will take place, where licences or permits are required by Environment Agency or DEFRA, BW is confident that they will be provided. Statutory Bodies such as Natural England, Environment Agency and DEFRA are all involved with this project and have positively fed into its planning and this bid submission. The project area is not a designated Right of Way.

Invasive species

During access work along the canal we will manage invasive species in conjunction with the Churnet Valley Big Pull (CVLLP 9) and the dedicated professional action of the Canal Vegetation Project (CVLLP 5).


Our British Waterways Partner will maintain high levels of biosecurity with contractors when undertaking projects. They will also work with others to raise the awareness of biosecurity issues within the valley.

Environmental Policy

Reduce travel: It will be possible for contractors to use a ‘hot-desk’ facility at the CVLLP office in the project area to reduce travel to a minimum, and meetings will all be held in the project area.  Where possible site management equipment will be stored in the project area thus negating the need to bring it in from distance.

Discipline: Contractors will be expected to comply with the British Waterways Environmental Policy.